British expat scammed out of life savings by fake Benidorm bar owner

Published:  23 Aug at 6 PM
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Expat would-be entrepreneurs in Benidorm are being warned over property scams.

After a British expat lost her life savings to a fraudster, expats interested in buying a bar or restaurant are being warned to be on their guard. British expat Karen Wadrop came to Benidorm in order to make her dream of owning a bar in the popular Spanish beachside resort come true. In June this year, she was approached by a man who introduced himself as Ali and said he was looking to rent out his pub in the Rincon de Loix district. She agreed to take over the lease and also refurbish and re-equip the tired premises.

Renaming it ‘Jake’s Pub and Karaoke Bar’ after her grandson, she soon spent her life savings on redecoration, refurbishing and new stock at the same time as covering the wages of the staff whilst the renovations took place. Everything seemed fine until, on August 12, she arrived at the pub to open for the day, only to find there were new locks on all the doors. Inside was stock valued at almost $3,000, including barrels of beer she’d bought with cash against future demand.

She’d been slightly concerned when she was told by the breweries they wouldn’t do business with Ali, but went ahead and paid cash, with the invoices made out in her name. Subsequently, Ali demanded rent after previously telling her he’d sign it over for free if it became a success within 12 months. The rent demand made her more sceptical, leading her to tell him she’d pay after she’d received a contract. Almost immediately after her refusal she found the locks changed and soon discovered Ali didn’t own the pub and had owed rent to the landlord, resulting in his being kicked out.

His plan all along, it seems, was to illegally sign the bar over to Wadrop as its supposedly legal tenant and disappear, leaving her with his €45,000 debt. She’s now broken-hearted as well as out of cash, as she loved the bar and worked hard to make it a success. New expat arrivals should take note of this sad story, especially if they’re approached by a local with a similar idea.
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